February 16, 1999

John G. Davies
Chairman of the Board
University of California Regents
1111 Franklin Street, 12th floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear Mr. Davies,

We, the undersigned, are writing to urge the University of California Regents to declare a moratorium on construction of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The facility, being built and to be operated by the University of California, is designed to conduct contained thermonuclear explosions, experiments which may be considered illegal under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The CTBT prohibits “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.” The CTBT also requires parties to “prevent” nuclear explosions in their jurisdictions.

A July 1998 report by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), Dangerous Thermonuclear Quest, determined that the planned explosions in NIF are banned under the CTBT. While NIF cannot be miniaturized into a weapon, research on it would establish the scientific feasibility of creating fusion explosions without a primary fission trigger — a first step toward establishing the feasibility of pure fusion weapons. It would feed directly into research at Los Alamos and Sandia on technologies which have the potential for miniaturization.

If the scientific and engineering barriers to pure fusion weapons are overcome, a new class of weapons could emerge that would radically increase the nuclear threat. Pure fusion weapons would not require plutonium or highly enriched uranium, the acquisition of which is one of the main obstacles to nuclear proliferation. These weapons could also be made in various sizes, from very small to very large, and would not produce the highly radioactive fallout of current nuclear weapons. At the same time, the release of large numbers of neutrons would make them very effective at killing people while minimizing blast effects.

Given the grave implications of this research and the troubling questions surrounding its legality, we strongly urge the UC Regents to take immediate action. As the governing body of the University of California overseeing its contract to operate national laboratories, the Regents should take whatever action is necessary for the Laboratory to suspend work on the NIF project until the legal questions are resolved by the CTBT review conference or other appropriate international body. The Regents could also use the time during the work suspension to conduct a university-wide debate on the appropriateness of one of the world’s greatest universities continuing with nuclear weapons research. This should be a matter of far wider public debate within the academic community and the country as a whole. We urge that you use the occasion of the NIF review to initiate that debate. We would appreciate receiving your response, which should be sent to Arjun Makhijani and Hisham Zerriffi of IEER at PO BOX 5324, Takoma Park, MD 20913.


Arjun Makhijani
President, IEER
Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1972

Hisham Zerriffi
Project Scientist, IEER

Cc: All members of the University of California Board of Regents.

Organizational signatories

  1. Mark D. Stansbery, Secretary, Community Organizing Center/For Mother Earth, Columbus, OH
  2. Jay Coghlan, LANL Program Director, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Santa Fe, NM
  3. Mha Atma S Khalsa, Director, Earth Action Network, Los Angeles, CA
  4. Chuck Broscious, Environmental Defense Institute, Troy, ID
  5. Jennifer Olaranna Viereck, Coordinator, Healing Global Wounds Alliance, Freedom CA.
  6. Alyn Ware, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York, NY
  7. Greg Mello, Ex. Dir., Los Alamos Study Group, Santa Fe, NM
  8. Ben Knauss, State Office Manager, Nebraskans for Peace, Omaha, NE
  9. Michael Mariotte, Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Washington, DC
  10. Ralph Hutchison, Coordinator, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Oak Ridge, TN
  11. Doris Berg Smith, PANAL, Panhandle, TX
  12. Sonya Ostrom, President, Metro New York Peace Action Council (representing 10 chapters in New York City), New York, NY
  13. Beryl Schwartz, Peace Action New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM
  14. Vina Colley, PRESS, McDermott, OH
  15. Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Committee, Washington DC
  16. Robert Kinsey, Peace and Justice Task Force, Rocky Mountain Conference United Church of Christ, Boulder, CO
  17. Tom Marshall, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, CO
  18. Dr. Sheldon Plotkin, Member of the Southern California Federation of Scientists Executive Board, Los Angeles, CA (on behalf of approximately 100 scientists and engineers who are members of the Federation.)
  19. Beatrice Brailsford, Program Director, Snake River Alliance, Biose, ID 20. Don Moniak, STAND of Amarillo, Amarillo, TX
  20. Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA
  21. Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, Oakland CA
  22. Felicity Hill, Director, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s United Nations Office, New York, NY

Individual signatories

  1. Herbert L. Abrams, M.D., Professor of Radiology (Emeritus), Stanford University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA
  2. Frederique Apffel-Marglin, Professor, Anthropology, Smith College, Amherst MA
  3. Bruno Barrillot, Directeur, Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Paix et les Conflits, Lyon (France)
  4. Miriam Bloomberg, Oakland, CA
  5. David Brody, Mineola NY
  6. Betty Brown, Executive Board Member and Chair of East Bay Peace Action, Kensington CA
  7. Clark Bullard, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana IL
  8. William Burr, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive, Washington DC
  9. Helen Caldicott, Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and President of STAR – Standing for Truth About Radiation, New York, NY
  10. Michael Carrigan, Oregon PeaceWorks, Salem, OR
  11. Alice Carroll, Oakland, CA
  12. Gordon S. Clark, Executive Director, Peace Action, Washington, DC
  13. David Close, Dept of Physics, East Tennessee State, Johnson City, TN
  14. Rick Crawford, Lecturer in Information Age Ethics, UC Davis, Davis, CA
  15. Merav Datan, Program Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Cambridge, MA
  16. Peter J. Davies, Member of the National Board, Peace Action, Bronx, NY
  17. Scott Denman, Safe Energy Communication Council, Washington DC
  18. D. DePew, Berkeley, CA
  19. Dermot Dix, New York, NY
  20. Anushka Christina Drescher, Berkeley, CA
  21. Gwen L. DuBois M.D. and M.P.H., former President, Baltimore chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Baltimore, MD
  22. Madeliene Duckles, Berkeley, CA
  23. Anabel Dwyer, Member of the Board, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, East Lansing, MI
  24. Nader Entessar, Professor & Chair, Dept. of Political Science, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL
  25. Cathey E. Falvo, MD, MPH, Graduate School of Health Sciences, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595 (Pres. PSR/NYC)
  26. Eric Fawcett, Founding President of Science for Peace, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  27. Ansar Fayyazuddin, postdoctoral physicist, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
  28. Peter T. Ferenbach, Executive Director, California Peace Action, San Francisco, CA
  29. Prof. Michel Fernex, MD, IPPNW/PSR Switzerland, PO Box 167, CH – 4118 -Rodersdorf
  30. Ms. Solange Fernex, President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) France, F – 68480 Biederthal
  31. Stephanie Fraser, Las Vegas, NV
  32. Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.P.H., Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  33. Mary Ellen Gondeck, Coordinator, Peace and Justice Office, Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Madison Heights, MI
  34. Rajesh Gopakumar, postdoctoral physicist, Harvard University, Cambridge MA
  35. Brad van Guilder, Ph.D. (Physics – Univ. of MI, 1993), State Organizer, Peace Action of Michigan, Ferndale, MI
  36. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Pax Christi USA National Council, Detroit, MI
  37. Ashish Gupta, Assistant Professor Department of Chemical Engineering, SUNY-Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
  38. Mary Hamilton, Drexel Hill, PA
  39. Glen Harold Stassen, Lewis Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
  40. Tian Harter, Corona Del Mar, CA
  41. Fredrik S. Heffermehl, President, Norwegian Peace Alliance, Vice President, International Peace Bureau, Vice Pres., Int. Assn. Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, International Free Vanunu Committee, Oslo, Norway
  42. Doris Helperin, Berkeley, CA
  43. Howard Hu MD MPH ScD, Associate Professor of Occupational Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health (former Chair of the IPPNW Commission to Investigate the Health and Environmental Effects of Nuclear Weapons Production), Cambridge, MA
  44. Jennifer Highland, Bronx NY
  45. Chuck Johnson, Center for Energy Research, Salem, OR
  46. Cynthia Johnson, Kensington, CA
  47. Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Prof. of Theoretical Physics at the City Univ. of New York (Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1972)
  48. Sangeeta Kamat, Asst. Professor, School of Education, UMASS, Amherst
  49. Sivan Kartha, Ph.D., Associate Scientist, Stockholm Environment Institute (Boston), Boston, MA
  50. Rachel Keeler, Director, Pax Christi Metro New York, New York, NY
  51. Lorraine Kellner, Hayward, CA
  52. Pat Kenoyer, SL, Lebanon, Kentucky
  53. David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA
  54. Marlene Krohn, Concord, CA
  55. Doris Lester, Berkeley, CA
  56. Joseph S. Levinger, Prof. of Physics (emeritus), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
  57. Sylvia Levy, Oakland, CA
  58. Mr. Bernard C. Lindberg, Chair, Mankato Area Environmentalists, Mankato, MN
  59. Kay Mack, Boulder, CO
  60. Michael J. Manetas, Department of Environmental Resources Engineering, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
  61. Petter Marthinsen, 1450 Nesoddtangen, Norway
  62. Ruth Martin, San Lorenzo, CA
  63. Chandana Mathur, New York, NY
  64. Dr R.S. McCoy, Chair, Malaysian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Malaysia
  65. Charles M. Melchior, Absecon, NJ
  66. Axel Meyer, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb IL
  67. Zia Mian, Research Associate, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  68. Jane Milliken, Greenwich Stamford Peace Action, Riverside, CT
  69. Judith Mohling, Boulder, CO
  70. Peter Montague, Ph.D., Director, Environmental Research Foundation, Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly, Annapolis, MD
  71. Scott Nagle, Graduate Program in Medical Physics, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago IL
  72. Ali Naini, M.D Co-President, Los Angeles PSR, Los Angeles, CA
  73. Richard Nielsen, Executive Director, Citizen Alert, Las Vegas, NV
  74. Judy Norsigian, Program Director, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Boston MA
  75. Lillian Nurmela, Oakland, CA
  76. Rudi H. Nussbaum, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Physics, Portland State University, Portland, OR
  77. David Ozonoff, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
  78. Edith Paul, Berkeley, CA
  79. Brian J. Pevear, Electrical Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA
  80. Jane Podesta, Santa Cruz, CA
  81. Siddharthan Ramachandramurthi, Ph.D., Boston, MA
  82. M. V. Ramana, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  83. Lorene Rame, Oakland, CA
  84. Yves Renaud, CERN Geneve
  85. Betsy Rivard, WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), Atlanta, GA
  86. Dave Robinson, Program Director, Pax Christi USA, Erie, PA
  87. Gladys Schmitz, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mankato, MN
  88. Joan E. Schmitz, Mankato, MN
  89. Karin Schumacher PT, MPH, Denver, CO
  90. Charles Schwartz, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  91. Sharad Seth, Professor, Computer Science & Engineering and Director, Center for Communication and Information Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
  92. Victor W. Sidel, M.D., Distinguished University Professor of Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY
  93. Miriam Singer, Pleasant Valley, CA
  94. Alice Slater, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), New York, NY
  95. Brad Smith, Santa Cruz, CA
  96. Sari Stadt, Lafayette, CA
  97. Kristine Stiles, Associate Professor, Duke University, Art & Art History, Durham, NC
  98. Madeline Studer, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mankato, MN
  99. Bishop Walter Sullivan, President, Pax Christi USA
  100. Abha Sur, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  101. Corine Thornton, Hayward, CA
  102. Dorothy A. Vance, Berkeley, CA
  103. Lenore Velpfort, Oakland, CA
  104. Evelyn Velson, Oakland, CA
  105. Lynn Vicker, Berkeley, CA
  106. Liz Waterston, Chair, Nuclear Disarmament Committee, Medical Action for Global Security (MEDACT), United Kingdom
  107. Galen White, GTF Software, Mullumbimby NSW, Australia
  108. Celestine Wieser, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mankato, MN
  109. Peter Wilk, M.D., Co-President, Physicians for Social Responsibility of Maine, Portland, ME
  110. Lynda Williams. Instructor, Physics and Astronomy Department, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
  111. Beth Wilson, Berkeley, CA
  112. Leland Wilson, Annapolis, MD
  113. John W. Winchester, Professor, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
  114. Greg Wingard, Executive Director, Waste Action Project, Seattle, WA
  115. Karina Wood, US Outreach Coordinator, Hague Appeal for Peace, Providence, RI
  116. Janet Zaupien, Oakland, CA

Press release